Jordan Zimmermann threw five innings for Triple-A Syracuse yesterday, allowing a run on six hits while walking one and striking out three.
It was the latest sign that the right-hander is just about ready to make his return to the majors from Tommy John surgery; and if Jason Marquis struggles again on Friday, Zimmermann could be in the rotation as soon as next week.
It'd be quite fitting, too, if Zimmermann took Marquis' spot in the rotation, because then he'd be pitching next to the hurler that the Nationals have long hoped to pair him with - Stephen Strasburg. He'd be throwing a day in front of Strasburg, and the Nationals would get to see the effect their two young power arms would have on opposing teams in back-to-back days.
At the latest, the 24-year-old's return would probably come Sept. 1, when the Nationals can expand the roster to 40.
The last pitch to come for Zimmermann has always been his changeup, and the reports I've heard from his minor league starts indicate it's not quite there yet. That will be the key for the right-hander at the big-league level, so he can keep hitters off his fastball.
But as you probably remember from last year, he's got a good curveball and slider, and a fastball that will sit in the mid-90s. He's also got the kind of aggressive demeanor the Nationals like in a young pitcher - the kind that says, "Here it is. Hit it."
Suffice it to say the Nationals are excited about the possibility of a Strasburg-Zimmermann pairing in the next few weeks.